Situated on elevated land just one mile south-east of the Brudenell family’s historic seat at Deene Park, Deenethorpe Airfield is what remains of RAF Deenethorpe, a World War II air base used by the USAAF’s 401st Bombardment Group, from where 255 combat missions were flown against Nazi occupied targets in Europe.
After the war, the site remained with the RAF until the 1960s and was then taken back by Deene Park Estate and returned to agriculture.
In 2016, the estate saw the potential to enhance this prominent but exposed site, by undertaking what would become one of the three largest woodland creation schemes in England that year.
Plans were drawn up to convert 40 hectares (100acres) of arable land into woodland to link, buffer and expand the nearby ancient woods that partly surround the airfield. The new woods were designed to meet a number of key environmental policies, including wildlife habitat creation, flood prevention, water pollution reduction, and climate change abatement through carbon sequestration. At the same time, the woods will be managed to produce sustainably grown timber and fuel wood products as part of the Estate’s wider forestry business.
In total, 24 species of broadleaved and coniferous tree were selected to meet the design objectives, including England oak, small-leaved lime, wild service tree, black walnut, hazel, crab apple, spindleberry, Scots pine, Douglas fir and Japanese red cedar.
Planting was completed in two phases, with grant assistance under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. The first phase took place in January and February 2017, while second phase was undertaken in November and December 2017, with early snow just preventing completion before Christmas.
In total, 85,000 trees were planted, each one protected from rabbits and hares by an individual guard, and wild deer by a total of 7.6km (4.75miles) of deer fence.
As far as possible, the trees were sourced and grown in Britain, to give them the best chance of growing well on the site. The planting was awarded to a small local contractor, who was able to take on several additional men who had recently been made redundant in nearby Corby, giving them new skills and opening up employment opportunities.
Now fully planted, the trees will take 3-5 years to become established and able to grow well unaided. In the meantime, they are being cared for by members of estate staff, some of whom have received additional training and qualifications in important tasks such as weeding.
The new woodland is already making it mark in the local landscape and as it grows, it will help shape and define this important part of the ancient Rockingham Forest. In addition, a further 8,000 new trees are to be planted just to the north, on the western side of Deenethorpe village, again to enhance the local area and further improve the setting of the village.
Thank you for all your help which contributed to the success of our visit to Deene Park. We all had a very good time and were blessed with lovely weather to enjoy the garden. Please congratulate your catering team, the food was simply delicious. I chose well and thought the summer pudding was one of the best I’d ever tasted! We had a very good holiday and our visit to Deene at the beginning really set the tone for what was to follow, the guides were also excellent. My thanks for all your endeavours.
Linda DippyUpper Thames & Ridgeway NT Association
Despite the weather we had a wonderful day with you all and everything worked out so well – the welcome was so warm and your staff in the kitchen were spot on! Presentation of food was excellent and I felt the prices were most acceptable! Wendy, the guide was quite wonderful and I hope she realised how much we enjoyed the tour – everybody paid full attention. We were lucky enough to have a window of dry after lunch and were able to get around the grounds and also bought plants! We even had a “Gardener’s Question Time” with the Head Gardener, who was patient and knew everything we asked! All in all despite the weather we had a really good day. Thank you again.
JanetWednesday 18th May 2016
We had a terrific time at Deene Park. Please pass on our thanks firstly to the owners, but also to everyone else who contributed to such a delightful afternoon. We know it takes an awful lot of work by unseen staff, as well as those we met, in order for these events to be successful. We were made very welcome by the lady on the gate and had a fascinating insight into Deene Park’s history by our tour guide. The gardeners too are to be commended for the outstanding plants, inside the house and grounds. All in all, a splendid house, in a fabulous setting. What better way to spend a summer afternoon. We certainly hope to visit again.
Averil & Lloyd FaireyAugust 2015
Thank you very much for all your organisation. The arrangements worked well. The volunteer guides are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, in fact everyone was most welcoming. Please pass on to all the staff our grateful thanks for all their help and effort in making our day such an interesting and pleasant experience.
Cambridge District Pensioners’ Club18th June 2019
I pass on our great thanks from all the folks who came from St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s, Woodkirk for a really wonderful visit. The weather was very kind so we were able to enjoy the lovely gardens and both guides were very informative and friendly and everybody enjoyed their lunch and endless pieces of cake. The house look superb and the extra displays covering 500 years of the Brudenells life at Deene Park were really informative and helpful. For my wife Angela and myself it brought back memories of visiting Deene Park literally ten years ago to the day to be interviewed by Edmund and Marian for the post here at East Ardsley – happy memories and also of the butler at the time who I understand has also died. Please do pass on our thanks to the team and all who helped make our visit very special.
Glenn CogginsVicar at St. Michael’s East Ardsley
Thanks once again for arranging our visit and house tour – your guide was excellent and we all found the tour most interesting. The gardens were lovely, only marred by the wet weather, but I am sure many of us will want to see them again when the sun is shining. Please also thank the catering staff for the welcome refreshments and lunch.
Buckingham U3A Architecture Group25th June 2019
Our members were so pleased with all the arrangements made for our club visit on Wednesday they have asked me to thank you, the staff and volunteers for making the visit such a pleasure.
Peterborough Probus 743rd July 2019
We all thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Deene Park today. Please thank your guides for making our tour around the many rooms and the information they shared with us so interesting. The cups of tea and choice of cake gave us the energy to walk round and explore the magnificent gardens and admire the long borders and topiary. We were fortunate to have fine weather and the butterflies, bees and dragonflies were a bonus.
Oundle Historical Society
Just to say thank you for arranging our visit to Deene Park, which was much appreciated by our group. Also thank you to Mrs Brudenell for greeting us so warmly – it is certainly a lovely house to live in. There is so much potential for the gardens, which are being well tended by Andrew.
Historic Roses Group20th June 2018
Just a brief note to let you know how much our Reiki Alliance group enjoyed the visit to Deene Park.
There were many comments about how lovely the house, gardens and grounds were and how friendly and helpful the staff were. The overseas members of our group who met and spoke with the Brudenell family were most impressed and delighted that they were so approachable – something that would never happen in their home country.
The cream tea was enjoyed by all and most wished the visit could have lasted longer. Many thanks for your help in organising our visit.
Reiki Alliance26th May 2019
I visited today 29th June as part of the Boughton House group. Absolutely bowled over by this lovely warm house, its antecedents and history. Above all it felt like a home. Very privileged to be shown the Church especially by Charlotte Brudenell. I can’t praise the family enough for managing the complex preservation issues, but most of all for preserving this magical place for us all. Special thanks for making time for us, your pride in your ancestors is well founded.
Boughton Monuments Guides
On behalf of our ladies who visited on Thursday 27th June a big thank you to all at Deene Park who made our visit so enjoyable. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and Wendy gave us the most interesting historical tour and insight of what is involved living in and running a grand house – we even had a glimpse of the chatelaine herself. We all agreed that, along with the glorious weather which showed the garden at its best, it was the most enjoyable of all our trips and many of us plan a return visit.
Manor Arts Group27th June 2019
Our members were so enthusiastic about the pleasure they all had from the visit to Deene Park – so much to see, so much to learn and to enjoy. We are indebted to you and all the staff for giving us such a perfect day. Your guides are so clearly committed to Deene Park, its history and the family and it showed in the way they communicated their story. Margaret, who was with me in group 3 and struggles with getting around, has particularly asked me to pass on thanks to Joan who looked after her with stairs and chairs. Full marks also for lunch and tea and your cheery staff serving us. Finally I have to say that the gardens are looking gorgeous, even after the battering of rain they had had. Thank you so much.
Barnet National Trust Association12th June 2019